Is there a strategy or saying / quotation (chasidish, chazal, etc.) that addresses what to do if there are some aveiros that one is not ready to give up on but wants to feel good about doing the other mitzvos? Sometimes these aveiros become big in my mind and I can't concentrate on doing the other things. I guess it feels like "all or nothing" and I feel like it would be better to not be frum at all. How to fight this?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
Here's one I know of.
In the last mishnah of Yoma, R' Akiva says that "just as a mikvah purifies the impure, so does Hashem purify Israel." The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l points out that the phrase "the impure" seems to be unnecessary; of course, those are the ones who'd be using a mikvah in the first place.
And he explains: in halachah, a person can be tamei (impure) in various ways (for example, he might have come into contact with a corpse, and also with a dead animal's carcass, and also by being a metzora, etc.). Only some of these are purifiable via the mikvah; others require other procedures. Nevertheless, the mikvah is indeed effective in purifying this person from certain kinds of impurity.
In the same way, then, he explains, R' Akiva means to say that Hashem is willing to act as a mikvah in this sense. Even if a person is not yet ready to do teshuvah for all of his or her misdeeds, Hashem will accept that person's teshuvah for what he or she is ready for, and forgive those - so that now they can start psyching themselves up to do teshuvah for the next thing, and onward.
I recommend that you take a look at the works of R' Dr. Abraham J. Twerski. He's a rabbi with a very strong Chasidic heritage, a major psychiatrist, and a prolific author. Self-esteem is a very big theme in his books. I haven't read it, but one title that looks like it's aimed very close to the issue you're describing is Angels Don't Leave Footprints: Discovering What's Right with Yourself.
No person is completely free of sin (Kohelet 7:20). This does not prevent anyone from doing Teshuva, at least for those sins he's ready to abandon.
Humans are referred to as "mehalchim/moving", as opposed to angels, who are referred to as "omdim/standing". Angels' spiritual level is frozen and cannot be altered. By contrast, humans are never standing still; rather, a human being is always moving, either upwards or downwards. God expects humans to strive to always move upwards; where exactly you are on the ladder is secondary.
Rabbi Dan Segal explained a verse in tehillim "זדים הליצני עד מאד מתורתך לא נטיתי": sins I have committed intentionally pressured me, but I haven't strayed from your Torah. King David was tormented by personal failings but didn't let them deter him from Hashem's service. There is a well-known Chassidishe saying that the Yetzer Hara isn't after getting you to sin as much as getting you to feel depressed about it afterwards.
Advice which has worked for many people (including myself): Instead of obsessing over the here and now, formulate a 12-month (or 5-year) plan in which you take upon yourself teeny little baby steps that move you away from a particular practice you wish to drop. Every move is a victory and should be celebrated. Eventually, with God's help, you'll get to where you need to be.
Who can say they are free of sin? (loosely translated)
Man by definition is imperfect and will sin. No one is perfect. No one is without sin. We live in a society were a premium is placed on accomplishment, goals and how people view us. The key is to be involved in the process of developing oneself, full well realizing that we may never be perfect. The process is what is more important.
In fact Chazal say that
Man must recognize and acknowledge he is a sinner. We must be honest with ourselves. Honesty is probably one of the most difficult things to do. I applaud you for being honest with yourself about what you can do and what you can't do.
The third point I would like to make is regarding that overwhelming feeling you have regarding your sins We have a part of us that let's us know we are doing something we may consider wrong. This is our conscience. Our feeling of guilt, fear and shame. We often have a view of ourselves. We imagine we "ought" to be one way. When we don't measure up we feel pangs of guilt. However, our guilt is really just an emotional response that is based on our image of what we imagine to be correct. This image is often formed and influenced by our parents, friends, society. If we lived in a different society we may feel guilty about some other issue. (For example a member of a cannibal tribe may feel guilty leaving over a limb). The guilt can be a tool or an alarm telling you to think about what you are doing. But you can't let it rule you. You need to evaluate with your mind and determine if the decision you are making is the best decision. The Torah's view is not an all or nothing approach. So, although one may feel guilty about only keeping part of the mitzvot, they must intellectually realize this is the best approach for true growth and development. Our society is a christian society that emphasizes sin is evil and promotes a guilt, fear and shame attitude. However, according to Torah חט really translated better as one missed the mark. It is true one may miss the mark in one area, but they certainly can make progress in other areas of their life.
I applaud your pursuit of the truth and the path to development. Keep up the great work!
For more answers, see:
R' Mordechai Becher; R' Moshe Newman. After the return: maintaining good family relations and adjusting to your new lifestyle—a practical halachic guide for the newly observant. Chapter 1: "Evolution or revolution?"
(Please note: The book was written for ba'alei teshuvah. Page 9 warns that many of the rulings in the book are forbidden for non-ba'alei teshuvah to follow.)
this is a tough one, because my experience is that people with this attitude NEVER get out of this mentality.
sounds to me like you need to hang on a few years until you have more maturity, and at some point you'll need to make that decision of which side you're on.
Because, really, you can't play games with Gd.